Monday, March 12, 2012

Multigenre Inquiry Project #engchat 3-12-012

I'm happy to be hosting #engchat and sharing how I use the creativity of multigenre inquiry projects in my English classes. I'm reposting here my comments Meenoo included on the #engchat blog:

How can teachers bridge traditional writing modes, such as expository, persuasive, and argumentative, with students’ creative impulses?

Multi-genre inquiry projects offer the best of both traditional academic writing and creative expression.

I have required students to blend genres in a multi-genre research project for several years. Although the multi-genre concept originated with Tom Ramano, I use a hybrid approach that meets my state and district curricular requirements in one on-going, long-term inquiry project that balances and marries the traditional research paper with creative components.

I’ll share my resources, some student project components, successes, and failures in #engchat. We’ll chat about ways to prepare students for the project, how to avoid time management problems, plagiarism, and information overload concerns.

Additionally, I’ll comment on ways of using classic and YA lit as jumping off points and inspiration for multi-genre inquiry.

My hope is to have one or two students join the chat and share their learning experience. The multi-genre inquiry project has evolved into a rite of passage for seniors in my English classes.

Finally, I’ll also reveal my plan for integrating the research and creative components into an even more seamless project this trimester, all while expanding each student’s audience.

Please join me for #engchat. I look forward to learning how you utilize multi-genre techniques in your classes and sharing my experiences, too.

Looking forward to meeting with you on #engchat.



Students begin their inquiry projects by taking a plagiarism tutorial. Next I give them a handout about the project. Next, I provide a document outlining the project requirements. This is one from the first year I assigned multi-genre research. The formatting is glitchy, but I hope it offers some useful ideas.

Two challenging requirements of the project are to 1) connect to a virtue from the Virtues Project, a character-building curriculum my district purchases a few years ago. Jeff chose responsibility as his virtue. To tie his research on off-road vehicle use to this virtue, he wrote:

The Tread Lightly Guide states some basic fundamentals for traveling responsibly, "Use trails designated for your vehicle, stay on the original trail and do not make new ones, understanding your terrain." By following the guide's basic instructions riders avoid making trails wider than necessary by riding on trails made only for your vehicle...


Jeff further developed the virtue in the creative portion of the project by creating a ToonDoo depicting a rider who destroyed part of nature by riding off the trails.

Outdoor activities and trail use resonate with my students, as we live in close proximity to a vast all-season trail system.

The second most challenging part of the project asks students to connect a work of literature to their projects. Many find this difficult, but I want them to see literature as about ideas.

For example, in writing about LGTB Rights, Marissa connected her research to I Am J. She wrote:

Feeling uncomfortable with not who you are but what you are can be something unimaginable. Like a character named J in the book I am J. This book tells about a boy who believes god "assigned" him the wrong sex. He goes through his whole life asking and wondering why he was born different. Living like that isn't just a story for a lot of people, it is a reality. 


Ultimately, I see multi-genre inquiry as a way to bridge traditional research with students' creative impulses. Through multi-genre projects, students learn to sustain a project over a long period of time, feel success they might not normally experience with traditional research, and experience multiple writing modes. Additionally, multi-genre research creates cohesion in student writing as I incorporate writing mandated by my district and state into the project.

I created this Pearl Tree as a way to collect and organize Multigenre resources from the internet. Please add new pearls, and I hope you find this Pearl Tree useful as you create your own Multigenre Inquiry Project:

Multigenre Inquiry Projects in Glenda Cowen-Funk (gfunk)

One of my students completed her multigenre project on The Beatles. The more traditional components of her project included:
Project Proposal
The Formal Research Paper
Works Cited Page
A Reflective Essay

Her creative components included:

A Power Point that she used to create a flip book by printing each page and binding together.
A Fan Mail letter, which she addressed to the group.
A music video mash-up (which I've had trouble getting uploaded to YouTube but hope to share soon)

This Animoto was created by a student who found acceptance among her peers once she came out. A big part of her project is based on the concept of LGBT Pride in one's identity:



 A student who works in our school's peer tutoring program and who spends her time assisting special services students created this Prezi as part of her project:


Student Multigenre Inquiry Project Animoto video on the dangers of obesity. Granted, this is a bit irreverant, so I apologize if anyone is offended by it.